Sunday, February 11, 2007

Perspective: Iowa Guardsmen Are Proud but Disappointed by Extension

A member of 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment on patrol

AL ASAD, Iraq -- Army Spec. Jesse Espinosa figured he was down to just six more missions off this base west of Baghdad. Six more missions in the turret of his armored vehicle, fingertip at the trigger, performing duty so dangerous soldiers here liken it to Russian roulette: providing convoy security along supply routes in deadly Anbar province.

Six more missions, then home to his wife, three children and civilian job as a cook in Bricelyn, Minn.

But all that has to wait.

The deployment of his unit, the Iowa National Guard's 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, was recently extended for up to 125 days because of President Bush's decision to temporarily increase troop levels in Iraq. Like many of his fellow soldiers, Espinosa, 24, was upset because "almost every mission we see at least one" roadside bomb, he said. Although most times, the soldiers are able to spot them before they blow up, he said.

Now, instead of getting back by March, his homecoming will likely be July or August. And instead of six, Espinosa, has about 40 more missions to go.

Read the rest at the Washington Post